Contract in Japan

Contracting in Japan - FAQ

What is the monthly cost of using an Umbrella Company in Japan? 

5% with a min of $500 USD per month


How long does it take to get a work permit in Japan?

6-8 weeks

What is the estimated net retention in Japan for a contractor earning USD 500 per day?

*update pending

What is the estimated net retention in Japan for a contractor earning USD 1000 per day?

It depends how it is structured. Approximately 70-80%

*doesn’t include fee for work permit or other immigration costs

More questions? See the rest of the FAQ for more information on the Japan work permit process

Getting Started

Taking a contract in Japan means tackling numerous administrative headaches. Before you even begin working as an independent contractor, there are complicated payroll, tax, and immigration issues to work out.

All this complex admin comes on top of any personal matters you need to sort, as well. Even worse, it can be a huge nuisance when you’re already in Japan, trying to adjust to a huge relocation – and a new contract!

Streamlining even a few of these obstacles can dramatically improve your experience.

Luckily, there are ways to simplify more than just a few…

Freelance Japan Requirements


One of your first hurdles will be securing the proper work permit. To get one, you usually need an employer to sponsor you. This means they take full responsibility for you while you’re working in the country.

That’s fine for full-time employees, but what about independent contractors?

Many clients won’t offer sponsorship for a temporary worker and, even if they do, you’ll need to apply for a new permit for each new contract. This creates a mountain of paperwork each time you want to work with a new client.


Additionally, you need to figure out what you owe (if anything) in taxes for your work in Japan.

Of course, there’s also your country of tax residency; you’re likely to owe something on that front, too.

You can take advantage of certain tax structures, but doing so requires a strong familiarity with expat tax law in Japan.

Benefits of working through an Umbrella Company in Japan

You can outsource a lot of these admin problems to specialists at an Umbrella Company (or contractor management company).

An Umbrella Company basically becomes your full-time “employer,” even though you stay in control of your workload, clients, and schedule. The Umbrella Company simply collects and processes your payments, filtering out social security and any necessary fees.

They can also sponsor your work permit, meaning you get to take on new clients without the aggravation of applying for a new permit each time.

Even better, most specialise in tax law for contractors in Japan and can ensure you’re keeping the largest amount of your earnings as possible. They can even assist you with reducing your tax liability back home.

In short, you get all the benefits of a working for an employer, without sacrificing your autonomy as a contractor.

How to get started with the right Umbrella Company

There’s a lot of Umbrella Companies out there; finding the right one for you can be daunting.

We’ve done the research on Umbrella Companies in Japan, and know how to match contractors with the perfect company. If you’ve already secured a contract, get in touch with us and let us know your situation. We can get you started with the best Umbrella Company for you, or simply offer feedback on contracting in Japan.

Oh, and we don’t charge anything. Drop us a line and get free, honest, simple advice.

Send your details for more information

Additional FAQ - work permits & payroll


What is the cost of a Work Permit in Japan? 250,00 JPY

What documentation is required for a work permit in Japan?

Passport, employment contract, 2 passport photos, degree/diploma certificates. Depending on nationality you could require vaccination certificates.

What is the work permit process in Japan?

To work in Japan, consultants must obtain a certificate of eligibility (COE) and a work visa. They may enter
Japan on a short term visa and begin the COE and work visa application in Japan. A COE for a work visa is issued by a regional immigration authority as evidence that the activities of the applicant are valid and come under the status of residence; all applications will be sponsored by our local partner in Japan
Once approved, consultants outside Japan must take the COE to the Japanese Consulate in their home
country to obtain the work visa. Consultants in Japan at the time of the COE approval will be required to change
the status of their current visa from residence to a work visa at the regional immigration office in Japan. This is
done on a case by case basis and is at the discretion of the immigration authorities. Our partners local representative will assist with this process.
The work visa can also be obtained without the assistance of our local representative at a Japanese consulate
overseas. As a general rule the applicant can take the COE to apply for a visa at any Japanese embassy or consulate in any country. However, we advise contacting the consulate concerned to confirm they do not restrict
visa issuances to residents only. The change of status must be completed within three months of the date of
issue of the COE and consultants must also enter/return to Japan within that period.
The work visa is no longer stamped in the consultant’s passport. A residence card will now be issued containing
all relevant information. There is also no requirement to apply for a re-entry permit as consultants are able to
exit and re-enter freely during their period of stay using the residence card.


Can you transfer from a business visa to a work permit in Japan?


Can we organise a business visa for Japan?


How long does it take to process a business visa in Japan?

5-10 days nationality dependent. Some nationalities do not require visas for short stays.

How much does a business visa cost in Japan?

$300 USD

Can nationals of certain countries enter Japan without a business visa (ex. on an entry visa or visa waiver)?


Yes as above


$3000 USD per month

How does payroll work in Japan?


Your employer (the company sponsoring your visa) pays the candidate on a monthly basis. They deduct social security  - which is 14.471% for employers and 13.691% for employees. They also deduct income tax - which is progressive and varies from 5-50% pendant on salary level. These deductions are made at source and paid to the Japan tax authorities. Candidates are able to offset their taxable income with relevant business expenses. The World Bank estimates it takes employers in Japan 140 man days to ensure compliance with payroll and labour taxes each year.